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Starting a literary podcast with Tavi Taylor Black and Christine Junge

Tavi Taylor Black and Christine Junge take us behind the scenes of their literary podcast The Personal Element with a discussion of Cindy House's essay 'Urgent Care.'

Find the full transcript after the Episode Notes.

Episode notes

Lesley alums Tavi Taylor Black ’08 and Christine Junge ’08 are the podcasters behind The Personal Element, a monthly discussion about one essay that both writers loved. On this episode, they take us through their podcasting process, and we discuss "Urgent Care," an essay from fellow alum Cindy House's forthcoming collection Mother Noise.

A transcript and more podcast info are available on the episode page.

About our guests

Christine Junge and Tavi Black met when they were working on their MFAs at Lesley University in the early 2000s. They became fast friends after sharing conversations about books, love, and life over meals in the cafeteria and drinks at the Lizard Lounge. Since graduating, they often read and critique each other’s work. They are both really excited to be sharing The Personal Element podcast with listeners. Follow the podcast on Instagram or Facebook.

More about Christine

Christine is currently shopping two novels to agents. She lives in San Jose, CA, with her husband and baby. She’s also hard at work on her next book, which features a character dealing with debilitating anxiety. You can read Christine's essay, which we talk about in Season 1: Episode 3, Taking Control of My Body Image, which was originally published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Find out more info about Christine on her website.

More about Tavi

Tavi lives on Vashon Island outside of Seattle with her husband, daughter, and a full household of pets. Tavi's debut novel with TouchPoint Press, Where Are We Tomorrow? is about four women working backstage on a rock tour. Her next projects are a historical fiction set in 1913 in Bar Harbor, Maine due out in January of 2023, and a middle-grade fantasy novel she wrote with her daughter. You can find out more about Tavi on her website or on Instagram.

 

Find all of our episodes, show notes, and transcripts on our podcast page or just go ahead and follow us on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Spotify or your podcast player of choice.

  • Transcript

    Georgia Sparling

    This is Why We Write, a podcast of Lesley University. Every episode we bring you conversations with authors in the Lesley community to talk about books, writing and the writing life. Today's guests are Tavi Taylor Black and Christine Junge, who are both alums from our MFA in Creative Writing program. These two friends host their own literary podcast, The Personal Element, where they ask an author to read a personal essay and then discuss it. I figured what better way to talk about their podcast than to do our own version of it today. So after we chat a bit, we're going to listen to an amazing essay from Lesley alum, Cindy House's forthcoming book "Mother Noise," and then we'll talk about it. So first, welcome to the show.

    Christine Junge

    Thank you.

    Tavi Black

    Thank you.

    Georgia  

    So for starters, I'd love to know a little bit about each of you and what kind of things you write.

    Christine 

    Yeah, I can jump in. This is Christine. And so Tavi and I met at Lesley, like Georgia just said. We graduated back in 2008 and we've been friends ever since. We both were in the fiction track, so we both write fiction, and I also write personal essays, which is why I was so excited to start this podcast with Tavi.

    Tavi 

    Yeah, I was really not sure I wanted to do a podcast when Christine asked me. I, like a lot of writers, tend to be not an extrovert. [laughs] I don't necessarily like talking about myself. But it turns out that I really love talking about writing.

    Tavi 

    So just about myself, I have a book that came out last year, a novel called Where Are We Tomorrow?. It's about four women working backstage on a rock tour, each of them coming to terms with what it means to be a woman working in a male dominated industry. And so it's been really fun to have that book out there. And then when Christine asked me to do the podcast, I thought, well, I don't actually write personal essays. I've written some blog posts. But it turns out that talking about writing is talking about writing. And I love it. And I found so many great essays from this project. I'm very thankful that Christine asked me to do this with her.

    Christine 

    Yeah, it's been a lot of fun. And not only do we get to talk about writing, but we also get to talk to each other a lot more. So that's been nice, because we're in like in constant contact, about the show, and then we get to share about our lives and do all the regular friend talking. [laughs]

    Georgia  

    How did your friendship affect your writing journeys? Or how is it affecting your writing?

    Christine 

    So we have a group of five women, who we all met at Lesley, and we've kept in really good touch, and we workshop each other's writing. We get together on Zoom calls, we're all around the country, and even in Canada. So we try to get together once every few years, as our schedules allow. We're probably going to do that in October this year, which we're really psyched about after not seeing each other for like five or six years. It's been a really supportive community and that's like, honestly, one of the things that I feel like I got on top of just a great education, one of the top things I got out of Lesley was meeting these great friends

    Tavi 

    Totally agree. As writers, we all know that it can be such a lonely pursuit. And I just feel like these women that I met through this program have been the ones to always be there for me and we're always supporting each other. It's been an amazing friendship over the years.

    Georgia  

    That's awesome. I'd love to talk a little bit more about the podcast. So Christine, you said it was your idea. Why did you want to do a podcast, and why did you want to do it about essays?

    Christine 

    I came up with this idea a few years back. Since the medium started, I've loved listening to podcasts. And I kind of thought "Oh, it'd be fun to do one." But I couldn't really come up with a good idea that kind of stuck with me and that I really wanted to pursue. I don't know exactly where the idea came from. It might have just been my love of talking about literature. I've studied English as well as Creative Writing. I just loved thinking and reading and talking about what I'm reading. And then I pursued it on my own for like a hot minute, and then I slowly realized that I did not have the motivation to do it if I was doing it on my own. So then I pitched the idea to Tavi, and she obviously liked it and came on board.

    Tavi 

    The thing for me was, I wasn't exactly sure how we were going to go about this podcast, but I am absolutely in love with the podcast by Pádraig Ó Tuama called "Poetry Unbound." And I sort of said to Christine, "What if we did it like him?" He does the same thing with poetry. And so I feel like we've really based our podcast on his podcast, only on essays instead of poetry

    Georgia  

    How do you choose what essays that you want to feature?

    Christine 

    It's a very collaborative process. We both just read a lot, just because we do, so we'll often come across essays that we like. And then if I find an essay I like, I'll send it to Tavi and see what she thinks. If we both agree that it's something that we want to talk about on the show, we will contact the writer and see if they have any interest in doing that, and then we move from there.

    Georgia  

    Has this given you an opportunity to talk to some of your favorite writers? Or what kind of behind the scenes stuff can you tell us? [laughs]

    Tavi 

    One of the things that was kind of interesting is, Christine came across some essays, I think they were submitted to us by a writer named Ellen Birkett Morris, and she said, "What do you think of these, I really like them, but they're not really what we normally do." And I read them, and then looked and thought, "Oh, my God, I love this writer, so much." So that was a really fun thing for me, because she's at the same independent press that I'm at, a small press. I had read her book called "Lost Girls" and I was just thrilled to be able to talk about her work, even though what she submitted to us was a bit more poetic than it was essay, so that's fun. We have talked about, I actually tried to ask Pádraig Ó Tuama if we could do one of his essays, but he didn't answer me. So let's see. We're working on finding some others that we like,

    Georgia  

    Do you have any parameters that you tried to stay within? Like, length or subject or anything?

    Christine 

    Not really, we're pretty open. Like Tavi said, Ellen's essays were really short, almost like postpones. And so we feature two of them on that episode so it could be a good listening experience. Yeah, we try not to go over, each episode is about 30 minutes, so we try not to go over like 10 to 15 minutes for the essay. But we're totally open to all topics and we love the idea of talking about things that either are familiar to us, or that are totally new.

    Georgia  

    Have you had any learning curves? Or is there anything that you've learned along the way that has helped to improve your podcast and your process?

    Tavi 

    We are definitely getting better at it. We've noticed that we can record an episode pretty quickly now, where at the beginning, we did a lot of stumble. It's a lot of work, as we'll see here, to not talk over each other. [laughs] And also, we found at the beginning, we'd sort of jump around on going back and forth between craft and subject matter. And now we kind of have it streamlined where we just start at the beginning of the essay, usually. And that works out a little bit better.

    Christine 

    And I noticed, I'm the one who does the editing, it takes me a lot less time to edit the episodes than it did at first, when we were kind of a little bit more all over the place in our in our discussion.

    Georgia  

    How often does the podcast come out?

    Tavi 

    Just once a month. It comes out on the 15th.

    Georgia  

    Great. Well, should we jump into the essay?

    Christine 

    Yeah. I'm excited to talk about this. It's such a beautiful essay.

    Georgia  

    Yeah, it really is

    Tavi 

    I wanted to say thank you, Georgia, for asking Cindy House if she would have us do this essay. Her book is just incredible and I'm thrilled to talk about it.

    Georgia  

    Yeah, it really is great. So I'll give a little bit of an intro. So Cindy, as I said before, is one of our Lesley alums. And her debut book of essays is called "Mother Noise," and it comes out in about two weeks, I believe, from when we record this episode, and it's actually the next episode of the show where I interview Cindy so this is a great preview. And today, we're going to hear her read "Urgent Care." So here's Cindy.

    Cindy House 

    "Urgent Care." On the day that our city announced the closing of schools due to the pandemic, Atlas injured his ankle in our neighborhood park. When I went to pick him up, he hopped toward my car with his arms thrown around the shoulders of two close friends. His face looked pale. It wasn’t like him to make such a fuss, having me drive those few blocks to get him, needing friends to half carry him to my car. I knew he’d broken a bone.

    I contacted a mom in the neighborhood, Jen, who worked at Yale New Haven Hospital to ask if she thought I should bring him downtown to her ER.

    It is hard to be a mother in an emergency. I’d only had one other time when Atlas needed me in that way. It was an asthma attack when he was four. It began with a chest cold. At first I was calmly taking care of him through the illness, giving him fluids, checking his temperature, reading to him in bed. And then he took a turn for the worse, and by the time I reached his pediatrician’s office, I found myself running down a sidewalk with Atlas in my arms, screaming at people to get out of my way. His doctor treated him on the floor of her waiting room that day and then walked us over to urgent care, where they told me they might have to call an ambulance to take him to the children’s hospital. They didn’t. We went home with prescriptions and a nebulizer in the shape of a puppy.

    “No way,” she said. “Take him to Branford Ortho Urgent Care—they’ll X-ray him on site and no one will be sick in the waiting room with corona.”

    Kids love to talk about the moments when their parents were scared, the harrowing near-misses of childhood, the incidents that were serious. Atlas remembers his chest X-ray and the mask I held over his mouth and nose because he wouldn’t let the nurse do it. I remember the way his chest caved in so deeply with each breath on the floor of the waiting room, the peculiar gray-blue tint to his lips, my racing fear.

    As I helped him hop through the front door of Branford Ortho, he felt so heavy. It was strange to have this big kid hanging off of me, needing me just to get into the building.

    By then it was almost dark out. The place was empty, so they saw him immediately. He had fractured the growth plate at the end of his tibia. He was given a boot and crutches and instructions to ice and elevate, and we were on our way home.

    In 2017, on my fiftieth birthday, I sat in the waiting room of the ER at Yale New Haven Hospital. It was just past midnight, so I’d been fifty for about twenty minutes.

    The waiting room was almost empty, just one couple on the other side, the people sitting at the reception desk, and a couple of security guards. I had hoped my friend Jen might be working the desk but I guessed it was her night off. Her twin girls were friends with Atlas and she always made me laugh.

    The right side of my face was killing me. I had pain all along my jawline and I could feel a lump beneath the skin. I originally broke my jaw in my mid-twenties, and right around age thirty I needed bone-graft surgery because it hadn’t quite healed right. I assumed I had another problem after all these years.

    I’m not a person who sees doctors very often. It has to be bad. In the days leading up to my fiftieth birthday, the pain got worse and worse. My MFA thesis was due in a matter of days and I had a graduating seminar to get ready to teach and I couldn’t think straight from the pain. For years, one of my biggest fears, something I tried not to even think about, was that something excruciating would happen to me physically and I’d be left to suffer through it because I worried that even one painkiller could send me back twenty years to who I used to be. And that night, just before midnight, I got into my car because my biggest fear had arrived.

    Once I finally got taken back to the actual ER, it was packed. The waiting room was empty, I guess, because all of their patients that night had come by ambulance. The lights were brighter, the staff rushed around hectically, the patients were loud.

    I sat on a gurney with my book in my lap and watched.

    Across from me, a young girl lay on a stretcher in the fetal position, asleep, her ponytail hanging off the edge. I leaned forward to peer over the foot of my bed to see if her hair was touching the floor. It wasn’t. She was sleeping because she had drunk herself into unconsciousness at a party in her dorm. I heard a doctor telling her roommate that she had probably saved the girl's life by calling an ambulance.

    There was a man handcuffed to his gurney near the center desk, a police officer standing next to him to tell him to watch his mouth every time he called a nurse a name. Intoxicated by something I couldn’t identify from his behavior.

    The hospital that night on my birthday reminded me of other hospitals, of being alone in a brightly lit bay of suffering, where I envied the people in blue, those professionals rushing around, with all of their self-esteem. People with makeup and fitness regimens and special shoes to support their arches, saying things to the patients like, “Sit tight,” while they called insurance companies for permission to admit. I thought of socks with grippy bottoms and thin bleached sheets, the loose ties of hospital gowns. I thought of times I sat with alcoholics and addicts, waiting for Librium or methadone, something to take the edge off, like starving children with our hands out for a crust of bread.

    But that night, it was just this lump along my jaw, pain there on that side of my face. I waited like a normal person, like a mother, like someone who’d had a shower that morning and accomplished things, someone who made dinner and did laundry and smelled nice.

    On the day Atlas broke his ankle, at about ten that night, his pain intensified. He had never had an injury that required an X-ray or stitches or a doctor visit. His suffering took us both by surprise. I gave him more Tylenol and my husband rushed out to pick up Motrin so we could alternate. He slept fitfully. I know this because I stayed up all night on the little couch in his room, timing his doses of Tylenol and Motrin, watching him writhe and moan in his sleep.

    By the next day, when Atlas wasn’t eating very much and was still complaining of a lot of pain, I called first the urgent care clinic and then his regular pediatrician. When I explained that he wasn’t sleeping or eating because he was in so much pain, they suggested the things I was already doing for him.

    I wanted to say that he needed narcotics. A wave of leftover, decades-old shame ran through me, as if I were asking for myself. I wanted to rattle off the list of opioids and scream that any of those would work because he needs something, do you hear me?

    The pediatrician suggested arnica, a homeopathic remedy for bodily trauma, which I knew about but had forgotten. I took a deep breath.

    It was true that he was a little better than he’d been through the night. And my preference would be that opioids never enter his system for the rest of his life. I was well versed in the evil of painkillers, and he was only twelve years old.

    My husband went out to pick up arnica at the Whole Foods in the next town over. I sat with my son and said that I wanted him to keep his leg elevated all day long and have him not move from the couch. We would stay on top of every dose of Tylenol and Motrin and add the arnica, too. We would ice it some more.

    I reminded myself that he is stronger than I think. That the pain would improve, that I could see him through this. And then I brought him snacks all day and watched The Office with him and timed his doses and slept there on the couch in his bedroom for another night. I watched him sleep that second night and hoped the injury could be proof for him that he could get to the other side of something awful, a memory to be used later, to tell himself we survive these things. He knows how to survive.

    The ER doctor finally got to me. She closed the curtain around my gurney and looked at my information on her clipboard. She felt along my jawline with her warm fingertips and looked in my mouth and said that she believed I needed to see a dentist for something like a root canal.

    "Oh," I said, "You think that's all?"

    And then I cried. I hadn’t realized how anxious I was until that moment. I told her I was an addict afraid of pain, afraid of not being able to treat any pain I might have. Just saying it out loud in that ER was a relief. I had never been open with regular doctors, afraid of being treated badly, so I just avoided seeing them.

    Then she did something amazing. She pulled up a chair and sat down and talked about pain management for addicts. She drew a picture for me of ways to prevent both suffering and relapse. She was a little younger than me, with springy curls and a kind face. She made eye contact. She touched my knee. She did not pity me or condescend or act surprised by my confession. She treated me like a whole person, not an addict. She washed away twenty years of avoiding doctors. I had been living like a fugitive, a person who had so much to hide.

    After the second night, Atlas woke up feeling much better. I remembered that at age five he had fallen into a swimming pool fully clothed during visitation with his father and stepmother. He couldn’t swim. They had dragged him to some friend’s cookout and I suspect they did not watch him by the water, perhaps were completely oblivious to the idea that you must watch small children who cannot swim around pools. That day, my ex-husband brought him home early, walked him to my front door where he stood soaking wet and screaming, his tiny Pumas making a squelching sound with every step. They did not even seem to try to comfort him or change his clothes, they just handed him over, hysterical and dripping. I pulled him into my house and shut the door quietly while my ex-husband started to explain what had happened. I could barely hear him over Atlas’s wailing, and anyway my kid was a more reliable narrator about what went on during visitation than his dad. I sat on the floor with my wet child and held him until he stopped crying, hyperventilating, screaming that he fell “under the water.”

    For years afterward, I pictured the moment he slipped into that pool, saw him floating in crystal-blue water, terror on his small face, eyes wide, with nothing to grab on to, disconnected and untethered, his tiny body reaching and sinking.

    Sometimes you move yourself out of the darkest parts of your past in such incremental steps that at first you don’t even realize you’ve crossed to the other side and now stand somewhere new. One day I noticed that whenever I remembered the pool incident, I no longer saw the boy underwater. I didn’t imagine the bubbles leaving his mouth, the panic and the clawing and the shock of the plunge. Instead, I pictured him rising from the blue, buoyant and sure, his whole being pushing through the dappled skin of the water’s surface, filling his lungs with the sweet air all around him.

    The next morning, I found a dentist and had a root canal. And just like I confided in the ER doctor about my past, I did the same with the dentist. And it was fine.

    If the opposite of addiction is connection, then a true story can save your life. It took me years to tell most people about my history and then more years to write this book.

    What I didn’t know at first was that connection starts with being whole. You can’t connect when you are hiding, splintered, a mere fragment of who you truly are.

    For years I imagined the me that lived through my past as a kind of a shadow, a separate secret version of myself that no one should see. But now when I think of who I used to be, I see a ghost that came home, a spirit that slipped back into the rest of me and settled in for good, finally stitched into the story of my life, synced up and humming along with the everyday beat and flow of my heart.

    So what were your initial thoughts when you read this essay? If you can remember, since we've been planning this podcast for a little while.

    I think my my overall impression is just how clean and clear the writing is. And she makes writing look so easy. Of course, it's not, and she probably struggled over each word like we all do. But the cleanness of it makes it seem like she just threw this down and it just came out sounding this great.

    I would agree with that. I would say that one of the things that, just in the opening section of it, is how she so easily describes her scene. She has just maybe two or three sentences, and it feels like a little scene, just even the beginning where he injured his ankle in the neighborhood park. "He hopped towards my car with his arms thrown around the shoulders of two close friends. His face looked pale." Just that short sentence, but she sets a really great scene for us in every single one of these paragraphs.

    Georgia  

    I thought it was really remarkable, too. I mean, obviously, our readers have only just heard one of the essays, but this essay fits so well with the entire collection. It has a lot of the same themes like motherhood, the things that are going on in her family and with her ex-husband, her past of addiction, like it all comes together in this really well, I thought.

    Christine 

    Kind of towards the beginning of the essay, where she says, "I worried that even one painkiller could send me back 20 years to who I used to be. And that night, just before midnight, I got into my car, because my biggest fear had arrived." And that really set it up so that if you haven't read the rest of the book, that makes sense. But if you have, it really kind of amplifies the message that she's been sharing throughout all the essays.

    Tavi 

    I wrote that, too, that she gives us hints along the way about her drug addiction, but she never comes out and just says that, which is such a beautiful writing technique, if you ask me, because it's so easy for people to just tell us "Oh, and I was addicted to drugs." And she never does that through this essay, but you know it even if you haven't read the rest of the book.

    Georgia  

    I felt the fear that she was feeling of just not wanting to go back to where she was or who she was, but there's this pain that you just can't ignore, and that kind of warring within you of like, "What's going to happen? How do I navigate this situation that seems like it could be impossible," and you could face all this judgment, even judgment that you're also internalized already without anybody actually judging you.

    Tavi 

    That sentence or the paragraph where she compares herself to the other people, the people with makeup and fitness regimens and special shoes, every person probably does this, maybe not to this extent, but her whole essay, you really can just identify with all of these emotions, whether you've been through what she's been through or not.

    Christine 

    There was also, like Georgia mentioned, the fear of her becoming addicted to drugs again, but then she also shares that she had the fear of her son becoming addicted to drugs, where she says, "I watched him sleep that second night and hoped the injury could be proof for him that he could get to the other side of something awful, a memory to be used later to tell himself we survived these things. He knows how to survive." And that's just one of the places where she kind of suggests that as parents, we all have these fears for our children, but in this case, it's grounded in the fact that, that she had had these experiences before.

    Tavi 

    If I can go back to, not to belabor this point, but I just love so much the way that she's so easily able to put us into a scene. It's right at the beginning again, where she finds herself "running down a side walk with Atlas in my arms, screaming at people to get out of my way." She goes from there, to this memory in the next paragraph, where she says "Kids love to talk about the moments when their parents were scared," remembering his X-ray and the mask held over his mouth. All of these really strong details just put us directly from one scene to the next. She does it again with the one sentence where she says, "I sat on a gurney with my book in my lap and watched."

    Christine 

    Another detail that I really loved was with the asthma episode, she goes home with a nebulizer in the shape of a puppy. And again, the detail, I don't even know what a nebulizer is, but I couldn't really see it because you can imagine this asthma-related thing and the shape of a dog. Like, of course they give that to kids.

    Georgia  

    Right. What do you think about the juxtaposition of her son and and him having to go to the hospital or facing pain, and then her being in the hospital?

    Tavi 

    She does that so beautifully. And throughout the essay, I mean, it's only four pages, but she goes so smoothly from her son to from this memory. What I find interesting is she goes to a memory of him being in the hospital, back to the present, then back to her being in the hospital when she was 50. And then even further into that, where she's remembering being there as a drug addict even earlier in her life, and then back to the present. I mean, it's really kind of brilliant the way that she layers these memories.

    Christine 

    Yeah and then we never get confused. Because like you said, there's just so many different time periods, but she's so clear about where we are in the story.

    Tavi 

    And for me, towards the end of the essay, I'd say after the first half, there's one paragraph that sort of tells me, it sort of summed up what this essay is about. She said "And then I cried. I hadn't realized how anxious I was until that moment." It's when she was telling the doctor that she's an addict. And for me, I could really relate to that shame that you carry around your whole life, which to somebody else, may not be anything. This doctor said, "That's okay. It doesn't matter."

    Christine 

    Yeah, I love that scene, too. And she says, "She treated me like a whole person, not an addict." I'm not former addict, but I do have some fears of going into the doctor and being judged. And that's all we ever want, is to be seen as a whole person, not just our medical conditions.

    Georgia  

    I love that moment of compassion with the doctor. And then even just the kindness that you see in Cindy, like when they take her into the back, and she checks on that girl who's passed out just to make sure like her hair is on the floor. And it's such a like, motherly thing to do. [laughs] It kind of reinforces that she's still a mother in the situation, that she's still herself. I just thought that was a really poignant detail to me.

    Tavi 

    Agreed. I actually underlined that bit about making sure her hair wasn't on the floor, just the ponytail. And then again, at the end, towards the end, she says, "If the opposite of addiction is connection, then a true story can save your life." And what a great way to wrap up her book. For those who haven't read it, this essay is the very end of the book. And then she says "It took me years to tell most people about my history and then more years to write this book." So now she's doing the thing I think that good essays can really do. is sort of tell you without telling you why they're writing.

    Christine 

    Yeah, and I highlighted that same area. And then also the next paragraph with "What I didn't know at first was that connection starts with being whole. You can't connect when you are hiding, splintered, a mere fragment of who you truly are."  I thought that was just such a beautiful, kind of summing up of the crux of the essay. And yeah, and just so beautifully said.

    Georgia  

    I think the sentence that stood out to me the most was on the page before that, where she talks about, "Sometimes you move yourself out of the darkest parts of your past in such incremental steps that at first you don't even realize you've crossed to the other side and now stand somewhere new." That was so beautiful. Yeah, I just like that transformation. And I think, too, that idea that's in this essay of you're not leaving the past behind, like you can't, really, It's always gonna be there in some respect, but it doesn't have to have the same hold on you, or it doesn't have to look exactly the same, or you don't have to interact with that past in the same way. Like with her son, not seeing him the same way after the incident with the pool, or not always seeing that incident in the same light that she did originally.

    Tavi 

    I found that part really interesting. It was such a different reflection than she does otherwise. And I found myself wondering, "do I do that? Do I change a memory?" And I can't say that I do. But I love that she can

    Christine 

    Yeah, I do think it's a really good psychological trick, to be focusing more on the positives of the situation than the negative, even in your own memory, so that traumatic things can be transformed that way.

    Tavi 

    I read an article once that said that "Every time we retrieve a memory, we change it." So perhaps that is a way that we could do it in a good way.

    Georgia  

    The tendency I think is to spiral [laughs] and be like "Oh, this is way worse." And hopefully you have a friend or something that tells you it wasn't that bad. [laughs] And her history was really hard. A lot of awful things happened or that she chose to do, and the fact that she was able to be a functioning human today with a family and a career is really amazing, which I think anybody who picks up the book, which you should do, will find out. It was  a lot. It could have been really heavy given the content, and it wasn't, but it is very forthcoming, I guess, about her experiences and her addiction and what that was like.

    Tavi 

    Yeah, I love how she's really able to use humor. I mean, this isn't particularly funny, but just her turn of phrase is humorous to me.

    Georgia  

    There's a great range of essays, I thought, in the book. She also went to art school and so she illustrates some of them. There's some graphic essays, which is cool.

    Tavi 

    Oh, I didn't realize she had done those drawings. That's excellent.

    Georgia  

    Any other thoughts about "Urgent Care?"

    Christine 

    One thing that I thought she also did well was setting us in a time. Because on the very first page, she talks about how her friend who works in the ER told her not to come to the hospital because of COVID. And COVID was just starting out as she's going through this experience. It really brought me back to those early days. I was actually pregnant in those early days of COVID, and, of course, you have to go to the doctor a lot when you're pregnant, and it was so scary, because we didn't know how it was transmitted. The idea of getting into public, we didn't know what kind of effect it would have on unborn babies. So the idea of going into a hospital or my doctor's office, and sitting there amongst other people was so frightening. And then of course, now that things are looking better, i's easy to kind of forget how scary that was, but she really brings us back right there.

    Tavi 

    With just one sentence. I'd say the the whole essay is very compact in that way. She does a lot in just a few short sentences. And that brings me back to the point that Christine made at the beginning, which it's so economical, her words, and she does so much with so little. I loved having a chance to talk about her work. So I just want to say thank you, Georgia, for having us on to do this all together. And I was a little bit concerned. I thought, “Is it gonna be hard for three of us to talk about an essay?" [laughs] But it wasn't.

    Georgia  

    Yeah, not too bad. [laughs]

    Christine 

    Yeah, it was great. It was really enjoyable. Thank you, Georgia.

    Georgia  

    I'm glad that we could kind of have a taste of what you all do every month on your podcast. [music starts] The Personal Element comes out every month and it's available on all the major podcast platforms. Plus there's a link in the show notes, of course. You can also find links to learn more about "Mother Noise" by Cindy House and Christine and Tavi's websites in our show notes. And remember to rate, subscribe, and review our podcast and join us again in two weeks to hear my conversation with Cindy. [music fades out]